Holy Cross North Miami

A Message From Pastor

March 29, 2020

Dear Holy Cross Family,    

This has been an unprecedented time in our world in response to the rapidly evolving developments surrounding the Coronavirus. In the midst of the uncertainties, planning (and then re-planning), and having to adapt in real-time as new government directives emerge, we take solace in knowing that as we continue to plan, God remains in control. I want to commend the church and school faculty, under the leadership of our Principal, Sherry Mackey, for their diligence, adaptability and commitment to the mission of the Church and School in this trying time.

 “The heart of man plans his way, but the Lord directs his steps.” - Proverbs 16:9

In addition to our public health concerns, there are very real concerns about the state of our economy and our personal finances, nevertheless, we know that our hope rests not in our provisions, but our Provider. 

“Do not toil to acquire wealth….When your eyes light on it, it is gone, for suddenly it sprouts wings, flying like an eagle toward heaven.” - Proverbs 23:4-5

As we adhere to the instructions from local, state and federal authority in place to prevent the spread of the virus and to protect the most vulnerable in our society, we recognize that this “new normal” will challenge some of the very things that we previously found strength and comfort, namely the gathering of believers. So oddly, when you read about the “fear of the Jews” (John 20:19-22) that the disciples had in the wake of Jesus’ death, their solution was….to gather. And to lock themselves in together! AND…Jesus came in their midst and spoke “Peace” to them!   AND….He breathed the Holy Spirit on them and spoke to them about His mission for them!  So, what we see is that…. History is repeating itself only now we are not able to even gather behind the doors of the sanctuary to pray! 

When we started Lent….and planned it all out…..NEVER did we foresee this! Never in my 38 years of full-time ministry have I ever faced such a situation and now this old dog has to learn some new tricks on how to share the Gospel of Jesus!  And yet here we are.

And yet, this unimagined interruption in our normal plans, has be an opportunity for my faith to manifest itself in new ways and that this interruption, will actually strengthen our faith and our community of believers. So…on the one hand, I am praying that Jesus will deliver us from all this (and He WILL by the way), BUT, I am also praying that the lessons available to us THROUGH this thing….will be revealed, taken to heart and through it we will become stronger,better, more focused and more missional!  And that we will “endure to the end” AND we will know “peace” as we draw close to the “Prince of Peace”!

From the book of Job: "Job arose and tore his robe and shaved his head and fell on the ground and worshiped.  And he said, “Naked I came from my mother’s womb, and naked shall I return. The Lord gave, and the Lord has taken away; blessed be the name of the Lord.” In all this Job did not sin or charge God with wrong. - Job 1:20-22

Brothers and sisters….let us not forget what Jesus said to us in the Gospel reading of last Sunday:

"The harvest is plentiful, but the laborers are few. Therefore pray earnestly to the Lord of the harvest to send out laborers into his harvest.” - Luke 10:2

As I look around us, I see the following “good” coming out of this. I am sharing with you my partial list but I know and look forward to you adding to it:

  • A deeper appreciation     of our ability to “gather”.  When this is taken away, we now realize     what a precious gift it has been to gather together in the Name of     Jesus….hear His Word….receive His gifts….encourage one another! 
  • A new opportunity     and priority on how we do church – how we share our faith. Regularly check     our church website– holycrossnm.com– and our social media accounts,     through which we will be providing links to Sunday School lessons and     Bible Studies and we will continue to provide access to our regular     worship services – and providing links for families to do worship at home.     Sharing this information with your family, friends and co-workers is a     great way to share the love and hope of Jesus in a time where people are     desperate for hope.
  • We urge you to     continue strengthening your faith through regular Bible Study and     devotions. Families and married couples, this is a wonderful opportunity     to set aside time for family Bible Study and devotions, which we have     previously sacrificed because of the “business” of our daily lives. Our     goal is to provide materials for the home and following the lead of our     Christian Day School as they are doing on line teaching to our students     and even doing nightly bedtime stories on line read by our staff.  
  • Pray without     ceasing. If there is one relationship in which you should disregard “social     distancing” rules, it is your personal relationship with God. In fact, as     the situation becomes more uncertain, we ought to grow closer in intimacy     with Him.

In the midst of this situation, our study of “Joining Jesus on His Mission” has proven to be especially timely and appropriate.

This is a new adventure for us and it means that we must do …MORE Faith development in the home!  MORE focus and emphasis on discipleship!  MORE, personal growth by being in God’s Word daily!  MORE small groups that look more like house churches. MORE mission being done to our neighbors who are afraid and have NO hope…or maybe worse yet…are still hoping that man or Washington or technology will save them! 

  • NEW     opportunities to serve our community missionally.  My prayer is that ….We will start to     think more like missionaries!  We have done it before and in the     past one of Holy Cross’s strength has been to think “out of the box”.     This is our calling now. “How can we accomplish the mission to reach,     serve, proclaim, worship, when our normal patterns and practices have     been disrupted?”  "What NEW opportunities does this situation     present?” This is the way missionaries think! We are living in a time     when, EVERYDAY is a challenge! 

This may be a very difficult time but it is also empowering! Dependence on the Spirit of God ceases to be theoretical….or only theological….it becomes REALITY!  To see the Holy Spirit “make a way,when there was NO way”….is how God’s people have ALWAYS been led!  There is a saying - “Do it again”…”I Believe we are going to see God do it again”!Think about the wilderness, the Red Sea, Manna, crossing into the Promised Land! Think about Paul….shipwrecked, almost stoned to death, persecuted, imprisoned,beaten, abused, homeless, hungry and overwhelmed abut he continued to thank God for the opportunity to serve. And finally….think about Jesus…who gave UP the glory of heaven….who gave up the intimate connection with His Heavenly Father….who gave up everything…..for us!  To accomplish His Father’s mission to save us!  In every instance when there was “noway”….God MADE a way….by faith!  This is why Paul would later write: "For this light momentary affliction is preparing for us an eternal weight of glory beyond all comparison, as we look not to the things that are seen but to the things that are unseen. For the things that are seen are transient, but the things that are unseen are eternal.” - 2 Corinthians 4:17-18.  So“this light and momentary” pandemic…is PREPARING US….for God’s mission which will culminate in MANY coming to know Jesus as Savior and Lord! 

  • A deepening of our spiritual maturity. God’s desire for us is to: "Rather, speaking the truth in love, we are to grow up in every way into him who is the head, into Christ…” - Ephesians 4:15. These are trying times. These are times that require us to draw close to our Heavenly Father! These are times when He calls us to listen, to focus, to “ask, seek and knock” and to be obedient. We must remember that NONE of this escapes His notice! The Covid-19 virus and our reaction to it does not surprise Him!  AND, HE is responding! He is responding THROUGH the means He’s ALWAYS used:  His Word…His Gifts….His people!  AND, let us NOT forget His promise: “to cause ALL things to work together for the good of those who love Him and have been called according to His purpose” (Romans 8:28).  

Because God has called us to use wisdom and discretion to safeguard the health and well-being of our community, as well as adhering to the authority of our local,state and federal government, our church leadership has decided to adopt the following measures:

(1)Temporary suspension of all in-person worship gatherings, beginning SUNDAY, March 22nd.We will resume corporate gatherings when we can assure the safety and well-being of our community.

(2) Worship Services will be available online on several platforms, to ensure that they are accessible to all. While we are doing our best to make sure that the worship service will resemble our regular liturgy, including songs performed by our Praise Team, there may be a few necessary changes to the format. Information regarding our video worship services and other resources is available on our website, www.holycrossnm.com, our social media outlets, and other forms of digital communication. We will also leverage our phone tree service, including text messaging functionality, to ensure that all of our members receive updates regularly. If you are not currently receiving our weekly email messages, please send an email to kbpierre@holycross-nm.org to be added.  

(3)We are exploring methods of delivering Sunday School and Adult Bible Studies. More information will be provided.

(4)We are exploring ways of providing Communion in a way that adheres to social distancing, while ensuring an opportunity to come and receive Christ’s Body and blood. 

(5) To ensure that we can appropriately celebrate the dedication and devotion exhibited by our confirmands, we have decided to postpone Confirmation until we can gather together in-person as a family of believers.

(6) We are exploring options for digital Holy Week services if restrictions on in-person gatherings remain in place. Because of the rapidly evolving situation, including the timeline, we are making contingency plans for digital Holy Week services, if necessary.

While this situation is certainly not something that any of us could have anticipated, and there is great uncertainty about how this will develop, we find peace and solace in knowing that God is and will continue to remain sovereign. We remain committed to the Great Commission and will leverage technology and the creative of our Congregation, to continue proclaiming the Gospel message!

I believe if we will engage in this, God will use and bless this for HIS glory and our good! 

 

Blessings,

Pastor Bartels